Galling hypocrisy over Freedom Day’s hold-up – Patrick Mercer

ACTUALLY, I’ve been fine with lockdown here in my comfortable, ivory tower at the end of my working life. 

Is Boris Johnson guilty of misleading voters over lockdown restrictions?
Is Boris Johnson guilty of misleading voters over lockdown restrictions?

But I’m not part of a family packed into a high-rise flat; I haven’t got an elderly mother 
in a nursing home and I 
don’t run a pub or a small business. 

Yet, I’m seething, red-mist angry at the thought of my country and its people being conned and misled yet again.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Leadership’s about stepping up to the plate at times of crisis, being honest, determined and dependable and, above all, setting the right example. 

Boris Johnson's then advisor Dominic Cummings was among those to breach lockdown rules last year, undermining trust.

But the delay to ‘Freedom Day’ and the sly hints from Boris Johnson that it may be postponed even further scorn all these qualities.

This has been a bitter journey for me. 

Even at the early stages of the crisis when we didn’t know what Covid might bring, when it was possible that it might sunder us like the Spanish ‘Flu did in 1919/20, our ‘experts’ and advisors were already breaking their own rules. 

Messrs Jenrick, Ferguson, Cummings and a whole slew of others caused me a frown of disbelief, sowing the first seeds of doubt as our elite severed the bonds of trust.

This was the Queen at Royal Ascot last weekend. Meanwhile Wimbledon begins next week.

But then, as our PM battled with the virus for his very life and our Royal family struggled against the common enemy masked, distanced and isolated along with the people, there was a feeling of all being in this together. 

Perhaps a hint of the Blitz spirit?

No one can have failed to admire the Queen alone and muzzled in black at the funeral of her husband, yet shining like a beacon of inspiration.

I even had some empathy with the illogical rules and disappointments as the Cabinet behaved like billiard balls on a table snookered by the ‘experts’.

This was the Queen meeting G7 leaders at Cornwall earlier this month - but was the summit necessary? Columnist Patrick Mercer poses the question.

Perhaps it was wise to cancel Christmas and quash Easter with barely any explanation, we were in uncharted, dangerous waters after all.

Then I could almost 
swallow the ‘experts’ using frightening and misleading 
data to bounce us into lockdown last November, but I reached 
my limit when the same Jeremiahs pulled an identical heist a few days ago deploying outdated figures to gull Downing Street into delaying our final release. 

And still the sanctimoniously named SAGE has failed to 
purge these habitual offenders?

That said, I understand 
and respect that leading in 
crises is hard, that generalist politicians will have to depend on others and that mistakes will be made. 

But, when the creed of leadership was broken by sustained hypocrisy, my hint of disgust gave way to the dark bile of disdain. 

Let me expand. I’m not sure the G7 needed to be face-to-face rather than virtual, but I’m absolutely sure that there was no need for spouses, no need for drinks, barbecues and partying, no need for quarantine, social distancing and the plethora of diktats to be ignored whilst Downing Street denied that anything improper occurred. The photographs gave the lie to that.

Similarly, last Sunday’s papers revealed that the rules have never been applied once inside Downing Street and away from prying cameras. Apparently, Ministers use the cover of this privileged building to entertain their friends sans restrictions and there’s even a makeshift cafe that’s sprung up where masks and the rule of six are for the birds.

And why have Royal Ascot and Wimbledon – events with which our leaders are, doubtless, socially comfortable – been allowed to go ahead as Covid monitoring pilots? Does anyone else cringe at the sight of punters in silk and stilettos belting 
back the Bollinger whilst 
the staff and waiters hover two metres away and meekly masked?

Meanwhile, whilst the 
UK recently registered the 
lowest age-adjusted deaths on record, the latest extension is driving further businesses under.

It’s ruining the wedding and entertainment industry, crippling the airlines, causing further medical backlogs and deaths whilst the Government brags about our vaccination programme.  

You will have noticed, I’m sure, that a series of Government Ministers have dodged being pinned down on a definitive 
end to this horror whilst the Prime Minister himself has refused to rule out further restrictions. 

Already he’s clearly promised that this will be the last 
lockdown and that when ‘Freedom Day’ comes it will 
be irreversible. Whilst Mr Johnson is not noted for his adherence to promises, one 
way he can keep to his
 word, I suppose, is by never, finally lifting this lockdown.

‘Freedom Day’ has already come, but only for that entitled clutch who have never been seriously bothered by the rules. 

The rest of us, I fear, must listen to our Prime Minister telling us that ‘… we may have a rough winter for all sorts of reasons’ and prepare for lockdown again. 

How does all this stack up against honesty, determination, dependability and leadership by example?

Patrick Mercer OBE is a former Conservative MP.

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click here to subscribe.